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Discuss Broken Leg... No Swelling??? at the Horse Health forum - Horse Forums.

UPDATED** (See Bottom of post) Ok, my mare came in from the pasture 3-legged lame ...
  1. #1
    Full Member MissyMelC's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    Geauga County, Ohio

    Question Broken Leg... No Swelling???

    UPDATED** (See Bottom of post)

    Ok, my mare came in from the pasture 3-legged lame about two weeks ago, there was no sign of injury anywhere... we were all stumped, there was a slight digital pulse but nothing extreme, figuring (and praying) for an abscess, thats how we treated it to start, however I also put her on stall rest and wrapped her legs with a bracer to be safe. She started to get better (no bute), which told me, no abscess. The digital pulse came and went, and she continually got more and more sound, still no swelling or sign of trauma.

    She is now on light turnout, and comes in just as sound as she goes out, she's still not 100% sound but she's by far WAY better than she was .

    Everyone who looked at her couldn't find anything wrong, except that she seemed to keep the foot on the ground longer and it was when she went to pick it up she had trouble. So then we thought pinched nerve, rest, massage, chiro and time.

    My concern is now last night I was talking to a farrier friend of my boyfriends (who is also a farrier) and this guy has had horses, raced horses, and been a farrier longer than I've been alive, he's seen way more than I'll ever see, and so I put a bit of faith into what he's telling me. But we were talking about my horse, and how she's almost sound, but still has a hitch in her giddy-up, and we're not sure what it is. He said it could be a break, or a hair-line fracture and swelling isn't always present. ?? Has anyone seen this before?! Now I'm feeling like a horrible horse owner for not having the vet out! But I've also heard, and been a party to, people who get x-rays and if they don't take them at just the right angle, they don't show the break anyway.

    I'm now considering having shots taken just to be safe...

    My main concern is that I'm going to 'think' she's sound again and all it's going to take is a bad step and she'll break it worse if it is in fact broken...



    Update: So I had the vet out yesterday, and she is still leaning towards abscess. She first discussed doing a nerve block of the foot, and then we opted for the xrays to rule out a break in the coffin bone, because she also said doing a block in the foot runs the risk of making it worse if there is a break. I was also hoping that if there was a festering abscess that it would show up as a pocket on the xray... I was a bit let down when we didn't find anything. We opted to start with this set of 3 views, after she didn't see any breaks, give it a week of treating it, again, as an abscess (now I feel stupid because I was certain it wasn't an abscess, even though I know they can fester for quite awhile, I guess it's better to be safe than sorry!) and wait a week, see if it surfaces, and go from there.

    If in a week we're still not seeing an improvement and no abscess has show itself, then it's back to blocking, starting with the hoof and working our way up the leg...

    Anyway here's the xrays...

    (Note She's standing Toed out in this one above, so the view is a bit distorted)

    The chunk of old nail is not interfering... just fyi
    Last edited by MissyMelC; 09-19-2008 at 06:15 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member+
    Ryle's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Yes, you can have a fracture or damage to the bone without swelling. It could also be soft tissue damage anywhere in the leg. If she weren't getting better then it would be time for a vet exam, but as long as she is just take it very slowly and allow her to recover fully before trying to put her back to work.
    Cindy D.
    Licensed Veterinary Technician, TX
    Member American Assoc. of Equine Veterinary Technicians

  3. #3
    Full Member MissyMelC's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    Geauga County, Ohio
    Thanks for the added info, unfortunately my paranoia has set in and I've called the vet... she'll be out on Thursday to do a set of X-Rays and a lameness exam... I'm just worried she's (the horse) going to do something to make it worse, that could have been prevented!

    I just can't believe they can break a bone and not have swelling... amazing

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2006
    upstate new york
    Horse are here to amaze us. But then I had a broken bone in my hand and never felt it!

  5. #5
    Senior Member+ Kizza's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
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    Just the other day a pony where I keep my girls came in from the field with a cut on one of his back legs. It was not insanely nasty or anything, deep, but hardly swollen and not in especially bad shape..
    Couldn't be more wrong.. the poor little guy has fractures his splint bone (I think.) and bruised the ligaments..
    Thankfully if all goes well he stands a very good chance of making a full recovery.

    If I were you, I'd get the x rays done... but I am paranoid about legs!

    My old horse was in a situation much like yours.. she came in from the field 3 legged lame, no swelling, a VERY slight heat on the tendon sheath for a few days and then nada, we box rested her but any time we started building her work up she just went lame again.
    Hers ended up being a tear in her tendon. Perhaps that is your mares problem?
    The best thing for my horse was when we let her out again after box rest for 8 months.. she went 100% sound and hasn't had a single issue since, although other complications (she has cartilage problems too) meant she had to be retired from jumping, so we sold her to a lady as a walk/trot confidence giver. She is healthy and happy and has yet to take another lame step!

  6. #6
    Senior Member+
    harli36's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    northeastern Pa
    I've got a stress fracture in my wrist right now that has no swelling
    The Morgan Horse! Everything else is just a horse.


  7. #7
    Senior Member+ Preppy_Ponies's Avatar
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    Jul 2007
    So. Cal
    When my horse fractured his coffin bone the situation was very similar. He was 3-legged for a few days with a tiny bit of heat but nothing major. Then he started to seem better but still had a hitch. We went through 4 vets over 4 months before someone found the fracture. The first few insisted it was his stifle and injected him and told us to put him back to work. For a while one was sure the problem was up front. But in the end he had fractured his hind left coffin bone. But like I said no swelling and only a little heat the first day.

    So with that said if she were mine I would be getting the vet out. Maybe it will turn out to be something simple but I would rather get it looked at sooner than later.

  8. #8
    Full Member MissyMelC's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    Geauga County, Ohio

  9. #9
    Senior Member scorpiobancs's Avatar
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    May 2008
    South Africa
    I am really no expert. Hope the big ones can help with this.
    Good for you for getting the vet out. You are intitled to a second opinion if the first does not satisfy you! Hope that you can find the problem. Good luck and Speedy healing!
    Supporter ofHighveld Horse Care Unit, a non-profit organization in South Africa.
    Love unconditionally all things that God created.

  10. #10
    Senior Member+ Ceilidh's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    Wetaskiwin, Ab, Canada
    I had a gelding who went through a series of hoof abscesses and then, due to inaction, foundered. At one point, this lad had his front hooves tender because of founder, but with an 80% likelihood of complete recovery, then he broke his coffin bone in a hind hoof. No swelling at all.

    When the vet told me what the x-rays showed I was terrified. He told me that since it was an undisplaced fracture and the hoof is a natural cast, that six weeks of stall rest should see him sound. Great news. After four weeks his hooves were much improved. The founder was nearly over and he was weight bearing normally on the break. Then he came up lame in the last hoof and I found myself hoping for another break like the first. X-rays showed pedal osteitis and that spelled my boy's doom. Neither farrier nor vet could understand why he was developing pedal osteitis and could not assure me that it would not happen to his other feet. With no hope of recovery, there is one course of action. Sadly, we took it and said farewell to the wonderful and brilliant Tango

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